May. 1st, 2011 09:36 pm
aishabintjamil: (Default)
Spring appears to have finally reached New Hampshire. My lawn needs to be mowed before it becomes a complete hayfield. Unfortunately I took the lawnmower in to have a spring tune-up two weeks ago, and it's still there. I need to call and harass them tomorrow, since they told me it would be about 10 days.

This morning we headed off to the Hollis flea market to enjoy the first really sunny day we've had in about a week. It was very successful. We came home with two glass pyrex baking dishes, three broiler pans, a couple of extra baking racks, a Revereware dutch oven style pan, some small kitchen tools, a set of dice-shaped salt and pepper shakers for my collection, a cute otter figurine, and super-ornate picture frame for an old family photo.

This afternoon I went out and did some yard work, with mixed results.

I was annoyed to find when I uncovered the trailer that one of the tires has done completely flat over the winter. So flat it doesn't even spring back when the weight is lifted off it. The trailer is now up on cinder blocks on that side, so I can get the wheel off and get a new tire. But first I have to manage to unstick the lug nuts...

But there is good news too. The Christmas Rose is still blooming like crazy. The foxglove I planted last summer is coming back beautifully. The jack-in-the-pulpits are starting to poke up through their covering of leaves. The Siberian violets are blooming, and best of all, I have a little clump of fern-leaf bleeding heart that lived and is blooming. I think this was my fourth attempt, so I'm doing a happy dance.

The red and yellow raspberry canes did not fare well over the winter, so I don't think I'll get fruit from either of those this year. However there are lots of fresh shoots coming up, so next year should be good if we don't dump huge volumes of snow on them again. The red ones were under all the snow from the garage roof when we had it shoveled, and just broken under the weight. The yellow ones didn't get enough water last summer.
aishabintjamil: (Scannell-photo)
Embracing the Dragon by Kathryn Scannell

Danny O’Riordan’s life was complicated before the vision of a past life
forced him to admit he was bisexual. There’s a war going on, and being
Liegeman to Aran, the Elven King of Avalon puts Danny squarely in the middle
of the politics of two worlds, Earth and Avalon. Adding a romantic
relationship to the mix could be explosive.

His lover from that previous life has been reborn as Mordellir, the ruler of
the Tengri Empire. The Dragon of Heaven is the most powerful person in his
world. Will he want Danny back once he knows he’s been reborn? If he does,
how far will he go to get his way?

Find out today:
aishabintjamil: (Scannell-photo)
I've done two guest blogs this week, in anticipation of the release of Embracing the Dragon on the 13th:

I'm a guest at Suzan Isik's blog today, talking about good ways and not so good ways to borrow real world mythologies for your fantasy novel. I'm also giving away a free short story (M/M romance) to everyone who visits and comments, so please come check it out:


I also have an interview up at Margaret Fieland's blog:


On Thursday I'll have an essay on the Pitfalls of Titles at Julie Lynn Hayes blog, Full Moon Dreaming: http://julielynnhayes.blogspot.com
This blog has adult content, so you may not want to visit if you're at work.

On Sunday, assuming Live Journal is operating normally,  I'll be hosting the Torquere Social Live Journal community: http://community.livejournal.com/torquere_social/ . Stop by and say hello

I'll also be at Pat Brown's Blog: http://pabrown.livejournal.com/ on Sunday.

Finally, the Literary Nymphs Chat Yahoo Group ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LiteraryNymphsChat/ ) will be having a multi-author chat this weekend (April 16-17), showcasing authors of M/M fiction. I'll be dropping in there on Sunday. If you want to get the chat you do need to join the group. I'm not sure if you can browse messages without joining - a group can be set up either way.

There will be more blogs coming next week, but I'll save those for a separate post later in the week.
aishabintjamil: (Default)
I just got an email from my editor at Torquere telling me the release date for Embracing the Dragon has been moved up from April 27 to April 13. Ack!

I love the internet, and its various writing communities in particular - I posted to a couple of lists about how my promo dates were all now at least 2 weeks after the book releases, and now I have four more promo dates scheduled. I'll have a full list in another post later this week.

I'm also planning to have a short story, previously published by Torquere, as a promotional item when I'm out and about talking to people about Embracing the Dragon. Leap of Faith, which is set in the same world as Embracing the Dragon, and shares some characters with it, was originally issued by Torquere as part of the 2009 Charity Sip blitz. The rights came back to me in September of last year, and I've been debating what to do next with it. Then I started thinking about promotional give-aways and it was clearly a match made in heaven.

I've hooked up with a cover artist, Sheri McGathy (http://www.sherilmcgathy.com) who is hard at work on a wonderful cover for it, and am now working on figuring out how to get the text into various e-book formats.
aishabintjamil: (Default)
I'm playing hostess today at Torquere Press's social community on live journal (http://community.livejournal.com/torquere_social/).

Today I'm  doing something we call "stunt writing" - you start off in the morning with a call for prompts single word or short phrase prompts, and at the end of the day compose a short bit of fiction that uses as many of them as possible. I usually try to see how many I can work into a single piece. If you want to come make my life more difficult/interesting, the call for prompts is here:


I'll post whatever I've come up with at the end of the day. This usually ends up being silly little throw-away bits, and it's totally raw first draft, but since you start out saying "This is a throw-away" it really helps get by that "This has to be perfect" self-editing function that slows down getting your first draft out there for a lot of people.


Mar. 14th, 2011 10:51 pm
aishabintjamil: (Default)
I have safely purchased my tickets already, so now I'll share it with my friends. :-)

Al Stewart is going to be playing the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH at the end of July. He's an artist whose work I've enjoyed since I was in college, and I never figured I'd have a chance to see in person. I'm a happy camper.

We're toying with going to a Tempest concert if Beth can get at least half a day off. They're playing a venue in Cumberland, RI on April 15th. It's only about 2 hours, so it's doable as a day trip.

Last week we had a spontaneous impulse and headed over to Portsmouth for a concert by Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfe Tones at the Ri Ra Irish Pub.  It was definitely a good choice.

The music was pretty much what I expected. Warfield is one of the original members of the Wolfe Tones, an Irish rebel group who've been around since the 1960's.  He parted company with them in 2001, and went on to do some solo recording, and is now  touring with a new group of musicians. Their sound is much like the original Wolfe Tones., and since many of the songs they performed were traditional, or written by Warfield, the repertoire hasn't changed much either. I attended a Wolfe Tones concert in the late 80's, so this was a serious trip down memory lane for me, in a good way.

The venue was pleasant, going for a traditional pub atmosphere, with more upscale food offerings. The menu was pricier than your typical pub, but not outrageous. Most entrees were under $20, although not by much. Prices for drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are steep. The service was good, and the food tasty. 

My major issue was with their web site, which is pathetic at best. A month ago the announcement for Warfield said "Tickets available". No link. No information. I tried emailing to ask how one would order tickets. No response. So I put the notion of going aside as probably not practical on a weeknight.

The day of the performance I had second thoughts. I checked the site again. The announcement about Warfield and the Young Wolfe TOnes no mentioned nothing about tickets. I thought perhaps it had been an error, since the place is basically a restaurant, not a concert venue, and generally such places don't tell tickets. The web site said the performance was scheduled to start at 9pm, so we headed over intending to get there about 8:15, have dinner, and then sit back and enjoy the music.

You can probably imagine how pleased and impressed we were to get there and find that there was an unadvertised $20 charge for tickets, and that the show had started at 8pm, not 9pm. We stayed anyway, and had a good time, but it left a very sour taste in my mouth where the management of the establishment are concerned.

That wasn't the only issue with the web site either. The daily specials section of the menu is still running the specials from November.

And someone should tell the person who programmed the "Show me a map" option that 22-26 Market Square and 22-26 Market St are not the same place. The map option worked much better when I put in the Market Square version of the address, which was shown clearly on the page next to the "Show me a map" button. Lesson: if you're going to put up a web site with directions, at least click the link once and see that it works, instead of giving you six possible addresses Google thinks you might have meant, 3 of which aren't even in the right city.

So, if you're thinking of going to something there, you'll probably enjoy it. But do what we should have done: pick up the phone and confirm all the pertinent details with a live human. The web site is a pretty risky information source.
aishabintjamil: (Default)
I just came across a link to this blog on an email list, and wanted to share. This pretty much says it all:


This is from the creator of the infamous Skippy's List:The 213 things Skippy is no longer allowed to do in the U.S. Army. After you look at the serious entry on the blog, go check out the list. It's wonderfully funny.


aishabintjamil: (Scannell-photo)
I just got notice that my submission to the upcoming Dragon Moon Press anthology, Swords and Swashbucklers, has been accepted. Details of the line-up are on the editors blog: http://vg-ford.livejournal.com/606113.html

This is a companion volume to Rum and Runestones, and like its predecessor, is a collection of stories features pirates and magic as primary plot elements. 

I'm excited because this is my first sale outside the romance genre. My story, currently titled "Running from the Storm", is set in the same world and several of my romance stories (Embracing the Dragon, Lessons, and Winter King), but it's pure fantasy, with no romantic elements at all.

Morien, an Elven mage with a rare talent for manipulating weather, has been captured and enslaved by Tengri pirates. When the ship is taken by a larger pirate boat, he expects to die. But life rarely gives you what you expect. Will the new ship bring him simply a new set of masters, or a chance of rescue?

No publication date has been set yet. I'll post when I know more.
aishabintjamil: (Default)
This was a moderately productive weekend. I finished a final round of edits on my story for Val Griswold-Ford's forthcoming Swords and Swashbuckler's anthology, and sent it off for her consideration. As usual I'm not really enthused about the title I came up with, "Running from the Storm", but it will do. Finger crossed.

I also got another 1100 words written on Aliyah. The end is in sight, which is good since I signed up to take it to an intensive editing workshop at the beginning of January. Nothing like a deadline to make you focus on a project.

I also ran a one-shot game on Saturday night, using the "Diana Warrior Princess" rules set. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana:_Warrior_Princess ). I set it in North America, and started out the players in 1990's Chicago, as ruled by the legendary Al Capone. They spent much of the evening investigating a curse which causes the Chicago Cubs to have such a legendarily bad record. They happened upon the legend of the curse of the billy goat (google it for yourself if you don't believe me - I didn't make this part up), concluded erroneously that it was the problem, and set out to cure it. This involved a clever plan to release a herd of goats onto the field just before the 7th inning stretch to disrupt the game and the magic which they expected to be going on.

This caused great chaos and entertainment, but not much effect on the magic. THeir next approach was to go to the tavern mentioned in the goat legend, and hold a seance to contact the spirit of the *goat* to see if it was angry. They did succeed in contacting something which seemed to be the goat, but it turned out to be completely uninterested. (The curse having been uttered by the original goat's pissed off owner, not the goat...) Before they could try to contact him, they were interrupted by a police report that Wrigley Field was being assaulted by Canadian Mounties on flying motorcycles. They arrived there in time to discover that the Mounties were in the middle of the stadium, trying to excavate a path into the secret room the players had previously discovered beneath the baseball diamond, accessed by a hidden stairway and tunnel from Al Capone's private box. Local police were firing on the Mounties, the players detected magic happening in the hidden room, and concluded that Capone was up to no good and should be stopped.

They solved this by sending the Mounties and police a warning to evacuate the area, followed by shelling center field with a bunker-buster bomb from the submarine Nautilus (Captain Nemo was one of the players). This killed everyone in the room, which turns out to have been a who's who of the government of various North American city states who were apparently having some sort of secret meeting. They don't know why. This disrupted the magical effect going on, which released a veritable tsunami of power. The players, being closest absorbed as much of it as they were capable of, with varying long term effects. One player, Pocahontas the enchanted Disney Indian princess, cleverly said she was dispersing the power into her various hench-beings (the entire Disney pantheon), so it didn't overwhelm here. THIs will have serious long-term effects on the magical landscape.....

It also left a complete power vacuum. However one of the other PCs, Ron Shatner, star of the adult Sci-Fi drama "Buck Naked in the 21st Century" had made some pretty amazing crowd manipulation rolls during the goat episode at the stadium that afternoon. They decided he should run for mayor, since they were holding an emergency election to replace Mayor Capone. He won by a landslide.

So now they all want me to run this again. Whimper.
aishabintjamil: (gargoyle)
Some of you have heard already that we'd been approached by a friend to see if we might be able to offer a home for an elderly cat belonging to a friend who was unable to care for her due to health issues. I heard the cat's age, which is alleged to be in the 20-22 range, and immediately thought "No one will adopt a cat that old, therefore we should." Yes, we have sucker written on our foreheads. Also we knew when this came up that Romeo, who had been fighting a battle with squammous cell carinoma since August, was not going to hang on much longer, so there would be a vacancy in the househould. So we said yes, pending meeting the cat.

We went to meet the cat and her person today, and the cat did not hate us on sight, so we brought her home. Her name is Truffles. So far things appear to be going peacefully. She's walking around the house exploring, but there have been no explosions or even great fits of hissing. So far so good. Undoubtedly there will be issues, but this is a promising beginning.

The caretakers at the kennel where she's been living (for a YEAR, apparently) expressed doubts outside the owner's hearing that she was really 22. They thought perhaps 15 or 16, based on the way she moves. At any rate, we have an appointment on Wed. with our vet to get her checked out, and some real bloodwork done. She hasn't had a senior profile to check things like kidney function since 2005, and she seems a little underweight.

We've joked before about there being an agency which sends a new cat when we have a vacancy, but it's getting a little unnerving. We got this email about Truffles out of the blue at the beginning of last week, and set up the appointment to meet her today. Romeo took a sudden turn for the worse on Thurs. night of this week (probably a heart attack, or possibly a stroke - he just fell over suddenly, and never really seemed fully conscious again), and we let him go on Friday morning). I'd feel a lot better about this kind of providence if it didn't seem to be anticipating events so successfully....
aishabintjamil: (Default)
I've posted the prompt fic I wrote with the words from yesterday over in the Torquere community where it was supposed to have been in the first place: 

aishabintjamil: (Scannell-photo)
I've been feeling kind of creatively stuck lately, not getting a lot of writing accomplished. Help me out with that. Give me some nice, creative prompt words to work with. I'll take them till 6pm EST.
aishabintjamil: (Scannell-photo)
I've got a relatively recent short story out with Torquere, as part of their annual Charity Sip Blitz. This year's beneficiary is Doctor's Without Borders, which does some truly amazing work. If you're not familiar with them, I urge you to check them out: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

The charity blitz is a joint offering by the participating authors and Torquere Books ( http://www.torquerebooks.com ). We donate our royalties on the stories, and Torquere matches our donation. You can buy just one story, or the whole collection of 28(http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=79_111)

My story, Borders, introduces you to Kevin, a young doctor working in Gaza City, who is taking a long weekend away in Tel Aviv because that's the nearest place where he dares to be anything like open about his orientation. He's only looking for a weekend of fun, but he finds something that may have potential to be more than that, if its genuine... You can buy it here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79_111&products_id=2823

Right now I'm ecstatic because I just came across a fantastic review: http://www.darkdivasreviews.com/?p=2801 Kathy at Dark Divas was kind enough to give it 5 Delightful Divas. She was kind enough to describe Borders, among other things, "a vibrant, extremely sexy and romantic tale that has already sent me to discover anything else that she may have written"

It also got a great review from Jenre at reviewsbyJessewave.com (http://www.reviewsbyjessewave.com/?p=31148) : 4 stars out of 5. But I'm every bit as happy about this one as the 5 diva review, because of the comments. It's absolutely wonderful to read a review where everything the reviewer said is on target for what I was trying to convey.
aishabintjamil: (gargoyle)
Something very unexpected just happened. I was outside mowing the lawn (hopefully for the last time for this season), and looked over at our tiny little backyard pond (about 4' x 8' across), and there, standing on the edge inspecting it, was what I think I've identified as a Great Blue Heron. It stayed long enough for me to get Beth to come outside to see it. Sadly we don't have pictures, as the camera was stolen last week, and the replacement has not yet arrived.

We are relatively close to Lake Massabesic, which probably supports quite a lot of water birds, but not so close that finding one in my back yard wasn't quite unexpected.
aishabintjamil: (device)
We have officially survived Crown Tourney. We're home now, and planning to head off to bed relatively early because it's been a long, tiring weekend.

We headed off to the wilds of northern Vermont (one of the Lake Champlain islands) on Friday morning. My lady wife had agreed to cook feast for 125, and I was going to be managing the check-in. The first clue that we might not entirely enjoy the weekend came as we were loading the meat order (60 lbs. of beef roasts and 4 cases of chicken leg quarters) onto the trailer after picking it up at the grocery store, and realized that it was snowing. Not terribly seriously, and not accumulating, but very distinctly snow, nonetheless. It's not supposed to snow in southern NH before Halloween. I'm sure of it.

We arrived on site at about 4:30, got everything unloaded into the kitchen, and headed off to dump things into our cabin. (The site we were renting is a YMCA camp, so it included little cabins. The staff cabin slept 8, in four sets of bunk beds.) Then I went to get check-in set up, and discovered that the building were expecting to use for it was a) unheated, b) had a pair of doors that wouldn't stay shut because they had no latch mechanism, and c) had at least 3 windows missing panes of glass. We did solve the door issue by propping that set closed with a cinder block, but it was of limited help with the overall temperature. Friday night we kept check-in open till 11:30 pm, and it was *very* cold.

The weather for the tourney was beautiful, albeit a bit chilly. Everyone out in it being active was happy with it. Everything looked like it was shaping up beautifully, until around 3:30 four people had a sudden onset of nausea and vomiting. It appears likely that it was some sort of virus, rather than a food-issue, since if there had been an issue with the food provided at lunch we would probably have seen much more than the six cases that eventually turned up over the course of the evening.

Feast went on as planned, although a number people who had reserved decided to leave the event when they heard people had gotten sick. We ended up with only about 2/3 of the people we'd expected to feed, so there was a great deal of leftovers. Fortunately we were able to send much of it home with people to enjoy later, so it didn't go to waste. Unopened items such as bread commercially packaged breads are going to a local food pantry tomorrow. My lady's feast was very well received by the hardy souls that stayed. We finished cleaning the kitchen around midnight (And I cannot thank those gracious gentles who helped with that, and with serving the feast, enough. That will get its own separate post later as soon as we've had a chance to compare notes and make sure we haven't inadvertently left anyone out.)
aishabintjamil: (Scannell-photo)
Borders ( http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79_111&products_id=2823 )  just got 4 stars out of 5 from Jenre at Reviews by Jessewave: you can go read the whole thing here: http://www.reviewsbyjessewave.com/?p=31148

I'm doing a happy dance now.
aishabintjamil: (device)
I'm organizing Gate at Crown Tourney, and I'm looking for help. If you're planning to attend, and would like to volunteer, please consider doing it at Gate. I'd love to have people doing just two hour shifts, so you have time to go enjoy the event.
Here are the jobs that need to be done:
    * greeters - outgoing, cheerful people who will direct people to the right check-in lines, and answer general questions. No paperwork required.
    * Cashier - what it says. the check-in people will write up what people owe, you just take the money, and make change if necessary.
    * Express Pre-registration check-in. - easiest job here. You get a list of people who did everything ahead of time, check their names off on the list, and hand them a site token.
    * Pre-registration check-in - handle people who tried to pre-register, but missed something. They may need to sign waivers, provide membership information, or pay money because they sent an incorrrect amount.
    * Tourney entrant check-in - express check-in for tourney entrants and their consorts. This will be a mix of pre-registered and non-pre-registered.
    * General check-in - collect required information for Kingdom, check membership proof, get waivers signed as needed, and calculate the fees due. Doesn't require handling money.
If you don't have a specific job preference, feel free to just volunteer generally. We'll be working out who's going to do what once I know when people can be on site and are willing to commit to times. Please do let me know when you expect to be available.

Here's a list of the shifts I hope to staff. If you want to do more than one I will certainly be happy to have you, but I will be very happy to get people offering to do just one too. 

I'd also be very happy to have extra people on the busy slot (8-12) on Saturday.
Friday night, 6-8:30
    * 2 people - 1 will record information/check in preregistered people.
                      1 will act as cashier, taking payments and handing out site tokens
Friday night, 8:30 - 11
    * 2 people - 1 will record information/check in preregistered people
                      1 will act as cashier, taking payments and handing out site tokens
Saturday Morning: 8-10 am
    * 2 greeters to direct people to the right check-in point.
    * 1 tourney-entrant check-in
    * 1 tourney-entrant cashier
    * 1 express pre-registration check-in person
    * 1 pre-registration check-in person
    * 2 general check-in people
    * 1 general cashier
Saturday Morning: 10am - noon
    * 2 greeters to direct people to the right check-in point.
    * 1 express pre-registration check-in person
    * 1 pre-registration check-in person
    * 2 general check-in people
    * 1 general cashier
Saturday Afternoon: noon - 2pm
    * 2 general check-in people
    * 1 general cashier
Saturday Afternoon: 2pm - 4pm
    * 1 general check-in person
    * 1 general cashier
aishabintjamil: (basic-picture)
We took him to the vet when we returned from Pennsic because the lady running the boarding facility where we left him had noticed blood in his water dish, and thought he might have an abscess in one of his teeth. The vet anesthetized him, and discovered a lesion on his tongue. He suspected it might be a squamous cell carcinoma (aka skin cancer), so he took a sample for a biopsy. It's one of the more common oral cancers in cats. Unfortunately his suspicion proved to be well founded.

When it happens in an exterior location (ears are common), it can sometimes be treated effectively by amputation. That's not really a practical option inside the mouth. Some vets will remove part of the tongue and jaw in an attempt to stop the growth of the disease, but the results seem to be questionable. (<10% one year survival rate). It's just not something I'd consider putting a cat through, and not an option our vet even suggested. (Picture trying to feed Romeo with a tube....). Also it only works if the cancer hasn't spread to the lymph nodes.

At this point all we can do is keep him comfortable. I'm glad we did the biopsy. We know what's going on, and that there's no prospect for recovery, so we'll doubt ourselves less when we start looking at him and thinking its time. Right now he's still eating baby food, and wanting attention, so I think he's reasonably comfortable. We don't really have a prognosis on how long he has - I suspect it will be measured in weeks, not months, but right now he's holding.

He's seventeen, so we're getting into the area where something was going to take him from us. He seems mostly comfortable, and spends a lot of time sleeping on our bed. When he sleeps lately its so deep that he doesn't notice you approaching until you actually touch him. It's been scaring me, but now I think it would be a good thing if he can just drift away peacefully.
aishabintjamil: (Scannell-photo)

I'm over at the Torquere Press Live Journal Community ( http://community.livejournal.com/torquere_social/ ) hosting today. Stop by and help me make the place look busy. :-) I'm taking prompts for a ficlet this evening, and after coffee I may even think of something intelligent to discuss.

RIP, Iorek

May. 9th, 2010 07:26 pm
aishabintjamil: (Default)
Iorek, a white American Longhair cat   Iorek passed on earlier today. The new medication we started a month ago gave us a substantial improvement for a while, but it wasn't a cure. It did seem to alleviate the severity of his seizures, but didn't eliminate them. Yesterday he had another, and he just didn't bounce back from this one. We decided when we came down this morning and he was still acting semi-conscious that it was time, and thought we'd bring him to the vet tomorrow morning. He passed peacefully on his own some time this morning while we were out. I'm just thankful that he hung on till I got home from traveling for work last week, so I had a chance to say goodbye.

This has been a long series of ups and downs since he was diagnosed with what was probably liver cancer in September of last year. He kept having small improvements that made us hope, against our better judgment, that perhaps he was going to recover. About two months ago we concluded that the diagnosis of liver cancer had probably been wrong. At that point he started having neurological symptoms which baffled our vet. He speculated about possible brain tumors, but there's really no way of knowing.

He was a great cat, and loved to hesitate in the doorway when we let him in or out. He didn't change that approach when it came to the doorway into the next world. We're going to miss him very much.
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